What do you most want in life?
How do you hope you are spoken of when you are not in the room?
How do you want to be remembered.
Jerry Hislip, who at 77 was our most seasoned brother to attend our Ripple Effect group, went to be with our Lord Jesus two nights ago.
Though most of you do not know Jerry, I feel I cannot go without giving him a tribute in this forum.
He came to our group just a couple times last year when he was in town (from Vincennes) and able. But he made quite an impact. I know he had a lasting impact on me.
Jerry epitomized what The Ripple Effect is and stands for–seeking God first in utter simplicity. He gave all credit to God for everything good in his life, as well as saving him from a life of alcoholism. It was so incredibly inspiring to hear his story. He would always urge us to “just call on God” for anything we needed help with. God had worked in such a powerful and real way in his life that one could not argue with his very simple message.
We love to complicate things. Jerry showed us, humbly, the foolishness of this approach and the importance of simplicity. I so appreciated him and the short time I was able to spend with him. I consider it a most blessed gift.
What sticks out to me possibly even more than his simple approach to pursuing God was his beautiful gratitude for the privilege of attending this group of crazy dudes (“land of the misfits” I call us) as if we were doing him a huge favor, when in fact, it was Jerry who was greatly blessing all of us.
In all sincerity, I am a better man for having met and interacted with Jerry Hislip. Thank you, Lord YHWH, for putting him in my life for as long as you did.
God bless you, Jerry.
We love you.
In Jesus’ name. Amen
May the God of Peace, who led up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in every good work so that you may do his will.
May he perform, in you, whatever will be pleasing in his sight, through Jesus the Messiah. Glory be to him forever and ever. Amen!
How beautiful is this sign off?
What a wonderful summary of the whole letter here. What a wonderful reminder of these foundational and formational truths found throughout the epistle to the Hebrews.
What popped out to me was make you complete in every good work so that you may do his will. To make complete is to bring to maturity. Other places it reads “to make perfect.” To be perfect in biblical language is to be brought to maturity and completion.
When we’re complete and mature in our good works, we are solely focused on God and doing the good work for him. This is “performing for an audience of one.” We are truly out to promote the Father’s reputation and not ours. To reflect the ways of Jesus, not our own ways. To direct people to the energy of the Holy Spirit that flows through us rather than to ourselves. In this state, we are positioned then to do God’s will.
In prayer, if we’re not focused on the One to whom we’re praying, then we’re really not praying.
John Chrysostom said of the author in this passage, “he prays for them, which is the act of one who yearns for them.” If I truly care for someone, I pray for them. Otherwise I am desiring my will for them. And I find myself frustrated rather quickly.
Jesus prayed much, and often, we are told in the gospel accounts.
I’ve been thinking of Jesus’s human side a lot lately. And I love Australian monk Michael Casey’s words on this:
The long nights spent in prayer may well have been fraught with an urgent awareness of human weakness. “Because I am human, I am weak. Because I am weak, I pray.”
Maybe it was not just because he was perfect and had an amazing relationship with his Father that he prayed. Perhaps it was also due to the fact that he knew he was human and had taken on all the weaknesses that that entails, and therefore, knew he needed to be in much prayer in order to do what he was called to do. Reflecting on the humanness of Jesus is very comforting to me and inspiring.
As one of the eldest monks at Saint Meinrad told us on our first trip there in 2011, “We pray because we need to, not because we have to.”
Remember your leaders, who spoke God’s word to you. Look carefully at how their lives came to fruition, and imitate their faith.
Obey your leaders; submit to them. They are keeping watch over your lives, you see, as people who will have to give account. Make sure they can do this with joy, not with a groan as a burden. That would be of no value to you.
Our church leaders have quite a task. Our pastors’ responsibilities are many. The burdens can be heavy. They are servants who are appreciated and thanked for but a small percentage of what they do for us.
How do you encourage them? What are you doing weekly to relieve some of their burden? How are you sacrificing in order to assist them in their sacrifice? Do you help or hinder their work? When was the last time you gave your pastor a hand-qritten note of encouragement and appreciation?
Our job as Christians is not to sit back and be fed or entertained. It is to participate. There’s that saying, “Spectators become critics, participants become supporters.” I don’t think Jesus’ church model was for the pastor(s) to do all the work. I think it is for them to fulfill their part by equipping us to do our part.
You know studies have shown that in church it’s no longer the 80/20 rule–20% of the people do 80% of the work–it’s now the 93/7 rule.
What if we could just raise that to even 90/10? It’d make a huge impact. What if every person in a given church was participating in some manner, even if “small.”
What are you doing within your group, whatever it may look like, to encourage and support the leader(s)? What is your part?
Don’t just go and sit.
Here are some more provocative questions for us concerning this passage of Hebrews:
We all need encouragement and appreciation, not least of which our church leaders. Lord knows they receive enough criticism and complaint. We can be such a source of encouragement and alleviation for them if we intend to do so, even a little bit, every week.
What one does occasionally does not define a person, but rather, what that individual does regularly.
One of the most insidious dynamics in the modern church involves the bifurcation of life into two spheres, the sacred and secular. The life of the spirit and the life of the street, meant to be integrated, instead are ripped apart and thrown in different directions. Where this aberrant vision of the Christian life prevails, “church language” has the hollow thud of wordy noise rather than the ring of authenticity.
“When Christ-following truth is no longer spoken in street language, when it is no longer directed at street life, and when it no longer challenges men and women to live as Christ-followers in those streets, there is no longer a chance for real-world faith. People are tamed, learning how to act with deftness inside the religious institutions. But they do not learn how to live faithfully in the real world.”*
Real-world faith is replaced by a shallow substitute–a spiritual-looking, institutionalized religion that is completely irrelevant to everyday life. The vibrant, zesty fulness and realness of true Christianity is replaced by a tame spiritual vapidity that must be checked inside the door of the church lest it vaporize under the heat of the streets.
-from The NIV Application Commentary on Hebrews by George Guthrie
*Gordon MacDonald, Forging a Real-World Faith, 165
be content with what you have. He himself has said, after all, “I will never, ever, leave you or forsake you.”
You have everything you need to be happy right now.
Contentment is ultimately a choice.
You have everything you need because you have God’s presence and love available to you forever.
We are all born with an innate desire to be loved for who we are without condition, and to be loved this way forever. There’s no getting around this. We may repress it, but it’s there for sure. And we are loved this way, some of us just haven’t recognized it yet.
This summer, we are doing our “State Parks Tour” with our girls, visiting all 25 Indiana State Parks. With each park, we have a truth (Gaby calls it “The Truth of the Hike”) that we go over all day to help sink in. Yesterday’s was “You have value and worth because of who you are, not because of what you do or don’t do.” This is what I told all of my Outreach kids. Most have never heard this. This is a basic, foundational, God-given truth of His universe.
You have everything you need to be happy right now.
By happy, we don’t necessarily mean bouncing off the walls, though you certainly could be. Satisfied, with a settled peace. Joy, really. I think you can be down or even depressed for a time, yet simultaneously joyful deep inside, resting in the contentment of God’s never ending presence and care. We have emotions, we feel the range of them, that is human, that is OK. Contentment can be the soundtrack of your life playing in the background while experiencing all of them.
You have everything you need right now.
Focus on what you have.
Not on what you can’t have or don’t have.
This is the difference between discontentment and joy.
Matthew 6:33 has been The Ripple Effect verse from day one: Seek first the kingdom of God and His way of life, and all the other things in life you need will be given to you.
I believe this with all my heart.
In Jesus’ name
Well, then: we are to receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken! This calls for gratitude! That’s how to offer God true and acceptable worship, reverently and with fear.
Our God, you see, is a devouring fire.
I believe God wants our full attention all the time.
That human nature was created by God to be a receptor of divinity.
That Jesus, through constant attention to YHWH, was the purest receptor of divinity.
That God is greatly saddened when we are not fully attuned to Him, for He made us for Himself.
What most takes your attention away from God?
What most turns your attention to God?
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
From Mount Sinai to Mount Zion
You haven’t come, after all, to something that can be touched–a blazing fire, darkness, gloom and whirlwind, the sound of a trumpet and a voice speaking which the hearers begged not to have to listen to anymore…The sight was so terrifying that even Moses said, “I’m trembling with fear.”
No: you have come to Mount Zion–to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to where thousands and thousands of angels are gathered for a festival; to the assembly of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people who have been made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which has better words to say than the blood of Abel. [KNT]
From these verses, do you have a Mt. Sinai view of God? Or a Mt. Zion view of God?
The first section is an obvious reference to the Mt. Sinai experience with Moses. The second section is the new covenant experience of God mediated by Jesus. It’s not that God changed, but rather His form of mediation. Also, it seems God revealed Himself as appropriate to the humans of the time and their receptive abilities.
So with the Mt. Sinai view of God, you’ve got an emphasis on God’s holiness and humans’ unworthiness to be in His presence.
With Mt. Zion, you see an emphasis of grace, reconciliation, relationship, and joy.
Sinai, you’ve got the oh so delightful images of the untouchable, blazing fire, darkness, gloom, storm, trumpet blast, and a voice you beg to stop. Yeah!Woo hoo! Let’s party.
Zion brings us the images of the city of the living God, thousands of angels in joyful assembly partying hard, the church of the firstborn, God, the merciful judge of all, spirits of the righteous made perfect, Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and His blood which has much better things to speak than Abel’s.
Real quick on the blood thing in case you’re as confused as I was: In Genesis 4:10, after Abel was killed by his brother Cain, Abel’s blood “cried out” to God for judgement. By contrast, Jesus’ blood cries out forgiveness, reconciliation, relationship, peace, and joy.
So if your view of God is the old Mount Sinai scary, unapproachable, doom and gloom view, then your view of God is very outdated, like walking around today in parachute pants thinking you’re the most up-to-date hipster on the scene. That’s how ridiculous that view of God is today, after Jesus has done what He has done to bring us into intimate relationship with YHWH, clearing the path to Him which is now obstacle-free.
Yet some of us choose to walk around in our parachute pants, ignoring the fact that they went out of style some thirty years ago. Hey, it’s what we know, they’re comfortable to us, and still feel right for us today.
Go ahead and donate those suckers to Goodwill, or Broad Ripple Vintage, and step into A.D. It’s so good, so much better, so much more reality.
God is approachable now, thanks to Jesus. Very approachable. Stop living so B.C.
In Jesus’ name.
You must be patient with discipline. God is dealing with you as his sons and daughters. What child is there that the parent doesn’t discipline?
If you are left without discipline (we’ve all had our fair share of it!), you are illegitimate, and not true children.
No discipline seems to bring joy at the time, but only sorrow. Later though, it produces fruit, the peaceful fruit of righteousness, for those who are trained by it. [KNT]
We saw yesterday that a major key to living life well is keeping focus. Keeping focus on Jesus, listening to Him in the midst of our pain and upset. He always kept His eyes on things above. The destination is the motivation as we say. The ultimate destination.
Verse 16 warns to not be an Esau. He is the prime example of giving up what was of ultimate value because he was so focused on the painful circumstances of the moment. He gave up his birthright for a bowl of soup for crying out loud!
But how do we do this?
Do we know how to stay focused or at least return to focus quickly from anxiety and stressful situations?
Recently I came across and started to practice The Welcoming Prayer. This is a concrete tool to help stay level-headed, to stay yourself, in the midst of pain.
So I’ll share with you this wonderful gift that is meant to be used in the midst of anxiety, but can be practiced anytime, and even useful in times when things are actually going very well. In those times it can be a recentering type of tool to realign our focus on where it needs to be.
The Welcoming Prayer is about surrender, which is spacious heart openness, not capitulation or rolling over! It has to do with keeping the right alignment inwardly that allows you to stay in the flow of your deeper sustaining wisdom. To “feel the force” as Yoda says. We’re not giving in or caving, we’re doing the work to stand our ground in who we know we are and in full awareness of the situation. This may be different from what we learned surrender to be.
It is a way of acknowledging God’s presence in the midst of a distressing physical or emotional situation.
It works at the level of sensation, not attitude, in order to actively imprint kentoic surrender as the innate first response to all life situations. With the Holy Spirit, we can train ourselves to always respond to stressful situations as Jesus would, in love.
Kenosis-to let go; to empty oneself. Self-emptying love. Bringing yourself into a state of “unconditional presence.”
Your energy is not squandered in this state, but brought into the service of spiritual transformation.
It can also be used in times opposite of pain–when feeling smug comfort or self-importance.
It consists of three steps
Become physically aware of the sensations in your body. (Do a body scan)
Don’t try to change anything, just stay present. Do not analyze or justify yourself. This does two things:
This part may be odd or counter intuitive for some of you, but stick with it.
Say, “Welcome, anger,” or “Welcome, fear,” or “Welcome, pain.”
The point isn’t to get rid of it, but to not let it throw you out of presence. The only way to do this is to wrap your deeper self around it through the power of your compassionate attention.
(Take note that you are never welcoming an outer situation, only the feelings and sensations working within you at a given moment. If someone is yelling at you, verbally abusing you, you don’t say, “Welcome, verbal abuse.” No, verbal abuse is not ok or justified.)
Welcoming roots us firmly in the now.
Surrender means doing something out of the power of integrity, not knuckling under to coercion or abuse.
Here is a powerful quote for thought by Rainer Maria Rilke:
Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in the deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
The most important thing here is to only take this step when you are ready! It takes some time to be ready to let go.
And remember that it is only for the present moment. You’re not saying, “I’ll never be angry again.” Life is not so much about never getting knocked down, but about getting back up.
There are two ways of going about this step:
Or you may choose this powerful fourfold prayer
Those first three are the “energy centers” of the false-self system. Our core woundings in these areas, together with our misguided search for compensation, drive most of the unconscious behavior which is the source of our continual human suffering. By praying this, you are sending a very strong message to the unconscious! The fourth phrase ensures that you are not trying to fix the situation.
It may seem craziness to relinquish these basic requirements, but we are talking about even deeper truth than that which is really closer to the surface. Here are a few quotes beautifully expressing the deeper wisdom:
Whoever makes all cares into a single care, the care for simply being present, will be relieved of all cares by that Presence, which is the creative power. -Kabir Helminski
It’s not about giving up things we want or rolling over and playing dead. It is about connecting with an energy source of sustenance so powerful and vibrant as it flows through our being from the infinite that all else pales in comparison…The core secret we are coming to understand is that the act of letting go, spiritually understood as a cosmic energy exchange, is the power by which Jesus could live and remain true to his path. -Cynthia Bourgeault
Paradoxically, the more we focus on Jesus, on the ultimate destination and what really matters, even in the midst of troubling circumstances, we actually become more tuned in to the present moment, with all our faculties and awareness in tact so as to be able to overcome the situation because we stay connected to our power source.
I really believe this is the way Jesus lived His life on earth. He was so present at all times, so aware, that He always had clear access to the supernatural. I think His head and heart were so in the clouds, focused on His father, that He was more grounded than any other human being.
In Jesus’ name